Glory Fades

Yesterday I slipped back into City Mode, and the brisk spring weather gave me an opportunity to use this jacket from Pearl Izumi…which is out of stock so you can’t accuse me of being a shill:

In particular, I was grateful for the “easy-to-conceal magnetic BioViz® droptail” ass-crack Conceal-O-Matic:

While the bright color is ostensibly for my protection, it’s really me who’s protecting you since you don’t have to bear witness to something like this:

I had no idea at the time that the ass crack I’d captured was that of Paul Steely White, the (now-former) Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. These were the heady days when the Smugerati had no idea who I was and longed to unmask me:

Eventually they did find out who I was and courted me for awhile until ultimately more or less disavowing me, which isn’t surprising, since all along I was basically just some jerk who liked to make fun of them. By the way, the post they’re referencing above is a delightful reminder that there was a time when this blog was both entertaining and relevant, though I couldn’t have done it without the foppish people who defined that era, because that whole “Schluffing” thing was hilarious:

Sadly I think the original “Schluffing” video has vanished in the mists of time, which is a shame, but I can assure you watching this intellectual show you how to politely ride your bike on the sidewalks of brownstone Brooklyn was just as effete as you’d think. Reading this shell of a blog now it’s hard to comprehend what a magically ridiculous time the mid-to-late aughts were if you were a cyclist in New York City. Not only was the fixie craze in full flight, but bicycles were a key component in the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to redesign and rebrand the entire city, and advocacy was experiencing a renaissance of cloying elitism and rampant pretentiousness, anointing David Byrne as their patron saint:

As this video would suggest, even the New York Times eventually got in on the action, publishing a regular bike column called “Spokes:”

And profiling riders of note:

And who could forget Robert Mackey, the ultimate dilettante?

I haven’t accomplished much in this life, but at least I’ll always get to say I ruined this guy’s vacation:

How dare the world not rubber-stamp his recreational endeavors!

At any rate, back then it seemed like the good times would never end. But alas, they did. As the culture wars intensified, bike advocacy had to increasingly obfuscate the fact that it’s basically just a bunch of rich white guys, and the New York Times evolved from something indistinguishable from parody into something that far transcended it, and in a way that was no longer funny. As for me, I revealed my identity, which for most people was probably like discovering you’ve been having phone sex with your great-aunt. And that, as they say, was that.

Anyway, you know you’re getting old when something as simple as deploying an integrated magnetic butt flap that’s always getting stuck to the metal paneling on the walls of your elevator can send you on a Proustian nostalgia trip–though my old blogging instincts did kick in when someone passed me with a dog in a backpack and I (just barely) managed to get an over-the-shoulder picture:

Incidentally, some guy on a bike also chided me for using my phone while riding, and I can assure you it took every ounce of my restraint not to turn around, chase him down, and shout, “HOW DARE YOU DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!” Hey, I’ve been riding around the city taking bad photos since 2007, I think I know what I’m doing. Of course, maybe he did know who I was and was just busting my chops. It’s hard for me to tell, it’s been years since I’ve had a sense of humor.

Speaking of the glory days, there was once a time when at least every third rider in New York City was on a brakeless track bike. Now there are maybe three in the entire city–though they’re all famous by default, and they’re accompanied by videographers at all times:

I don’t know who this particular track bike rider was, but I know the videographer is not Terry Barentsen, with whom of course I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on a number of occasions:

By the way, I guess Monster Track is still a thing, and Terry uploaded a video of it not too long ago:

There’s some fine riding at the 12:50 mark:

Some things never change.

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